Garden watering top 10 tips: save time and conserve water in the garden

Gardening season is here, but doesn’t need to use a lot of water. We asked RHS award-winning garden designer, Lee Burkhill (AKA@GardenNinjaDesign) to share his water-friendly tips for looking after the garden. 

Plants are incredibly tough things but during hot weather summer they may need a bit more assistance in the hydration department. 

If you've planted bedding plants, are container-gardening or have house plants then making sure they have enough water at the right time is key for their survival.

This guide will help you save water and time with your plants. After all, there's no point watering for the sake of it when you could be sat enjoying your plants inside or outside!  

1. Swap your hosepipe for a watering can. This swap will reduce water usage significantly, making you more aware of the amount of water being used. Make sure you’re watering the base of the plant and not wasting effort or water spraying all the foliage as well. Whilst this may help temporarily cool the plant down, it's actually not great in terms of enabling the plant to take up water. Most of this water simply evaporates.

2. Install a water butt to collect rainwater in your garden. This water is free and will be the ideal ambient temperature for your garden plants and seedlings. It's a really good way to have some 'me time' as you let the watering can fill up, providing a really mindful gardening activity!

3. Leave your lawn alone, trust me on this one. Grass is one of the toughest of all garden plants and can survive periods of hot, dry weather. Even if your lawn turns yellow it will recover so save time, money and effort by leaving your lawns alone. You’re better off letting it grow slightly longer and postponing cutting it. This saves you water and helps your lawn take a breather!

4. Mulch your borders by adding a layer of compost, bark chips or grass clippings to them. An added layer will help stop excess water evaporating, minimising the amount needed to water your plants. Mulching will also help your plants grow healthier and stronger as it adds more nutrients to your soil.

5. Water your garden in the early morning or late evening. Avoid watering plants in the middle of the day, when it is warmest, to minimise water lost via evaporation. It also allows you to see your garden in the best soft light when colours look more vibrant! If you have house plants only water these when they start to dry out. The biggest killer of house plants is eagerly over watering them!

6. When you're washing salad or fruit, capture the water and re-use it in the garden. It makes sense not to let that lovely freshwater disappear down the plughole! You can also use this for houseplants or container plants. So rather than letting it flow down the drain, use a bowl and then help hydrate your balcony or indoor plants!

7. Keep yourself hydrated. While it doesn’t initially sound obvious, carry a bottle of water around to sip throughout the day and pour any that you don’t drink onto the garden. Gardening can be warm work so stay hydrated!

8. Choose plants that require less water. There are plants out there that thrive in more arid conditions. Examples include Lavender, Epimediums, Succulents and Nepeta. By selecting plants suitable for your gardens aspect and light levels it means you can relax more without needing to water as much!

9. Fish tank water is great for plants. If you're cleaning out a fish tank, the nutrients left in the water are great for promoting lush, healthy plants saving the need to add extra fertiliser. Win-Win! 

10. Selective ‘Spot’ watering is the professional gardener's secret weapon. Meaning you only 'spot' water plants that require water, rather than soaking the entire garden. Most established shrubs, trees and herbaceous plants can survive periods without watering as they have complex root systems. So only water those new plants or ones that look in need and leave everything else alone.

By gardening smarter, you can not only save yourself time but money when conserving water. That way you can sit and enjoy the fruits of your labour whether it is admiring your house plants or sitting outside enjoying your bright colourful borders!

If you have questions or comments on taking cuttings why not let me know below? You can Tweet, Facebook or Instagram me. You can also follow me on YouTube where I’ve got plenty of garden guide vlogs!

Watch Lee's video here and find more advice on saving water in the home.